Ridley Scott, 77, shows us yet again a lonely human in the silence of the void. A riveting opener establishes how and why a near-future team of astronaut/scientists is forced to evacuate the planet Mars as a raging storm hits, leaving behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who was knocked off-course by flying debris. They think he's dead.

As the crew led by Commander Lewis (a believably tough Jessica Chastain) return home, NASA starts to figure out that things are moving around at that space base, and that the man they thought dead is very much alive. Facing certain starvation if he doesn't find some food, the astronaut --who happens to be one
of the best botanists in the world--puts poop and dirt and H20 together and starts growing potatoes.

Thus starts a long journey to get our boy home, taking advantage of many smart brains and a collective need to do the right thing. Based on the scientifically precise Andy Weir bestseller, this is a movie that even Michael Crichton could love. It's smart, makes sense emotionally, and satisfies as it gets where it needs to go. Writer Drew Goddard ("World War Z") deserves praise for sticking to the book but also for giving Scott a script worthy of his immense skill set. "I am going to science the shit out of this," says Watney, with determined confidence. Like "Argo," this is one of those movies that celebrates American ingenuity.

Coming back from workaday efforts on "Exodus" and "Prometheus," this is Scott at his best. "The Martian" (October 2) should please both audiences and Oscar voters, and the Actors branch should recognize Damon, while Scott, Goddard and tech categories also deserve praise.

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.
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